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Dent Students Celebrate Season By Giving Back
Class gifts
Some of the second grade students at Dent Elementary that were involved in bringing in donations to fill gift boxes for soldiers pose with the donations and the special holiday letters they wrote to thank the military members for their service. Photo Contributed

In what has become an annual tradition, the second grade classes at Dent Elementary School have helped send a ‘taste of home’ to soldiers serving overseas and those across the country that won’t be able to get home for the holidays.

Teacher Katie Bartelink helps spearhead the effort and said all the second grade classes at the local elementary school take part. They bring in donations to help fill the boxes that get sent out in time for the holidays, offering notes and cards of thanks as well to those serving in the military.

Classes involved include those of the team teaching class of Katie Bartelink and Jeanine Panero, as well as students in the classes of Mrs. Cassie Gregory, Mr. Trent Silva, Ms. Deanne Sanchez and Ms. Jayme Greer.

“Second graders did it again,” an excited Bartelink said. “We collected enough donations for 10 boxes. Five were sent out before Thanksgiving to military members who were stationed in the states, but away from home for the holidays.”

The other five boxes were earmarked for overseas delivery, as names and addresses of those deployed were provided.

“We have a second grader whose dad was just deployed to Iraq for the next nine months. He should be receiving his first box any day,” Bartelink noted.

While all students got involved, second grader Keira Monroe from Ms. Greer’s class seemed to pave the way this year, leading by example as she brought in a large amount of donations.

Snacks, toiletries, small specialty items, candy … all are designed to help lift the spirits of soldiers away from their families during the holiday season. Some past recipients of the boxes have sent notes to the students, thanking them for their donations and indicating how much of a morale booster they are to soldiers in the field.

“The kids are loving it and are very proud of these care packages,” Bartelink said.